Solution to Churn?

In El Cee's wardrobe challenge, Sterling identified wardrobe churn as a current concern and I know a number of others of us also wish to think about that, especially in light of continued scandals in the garment industry and environmental impacts of manufacturing. It can be hard to reconcile a love of fashion with the aspiration to do less harm. 

Shedev, in her "5 piece" wardrobe may offer a kind of solution, at least for some. 

As I understand it, you break your wardrobe into two main categories: what they call "basics" or Angie would call "essentials" and others might call "core" items.  And "statement" or "impact" or "trend" items. 

Core essentials -- you replace or upgrade these as needed -- throughout the year, whenever your budget allows. 

For each main season you choose up to FIVE new "statement" items or trend items to add to the closet.

How you define "core essentials" or "season" or "statement" is probably up to you -- Shedev outlined how the originators of this technique conceived of them but she has made small adjustments to suit her own lifestyle and needs and I would probably do the same.

For example -- for most people in my climate some kind of bootie would be an essential -- but is only one "essential"? Or do I say that one light coloured neutral, one dark coloured neutral, and one bright are "essential." Do I say one casual and one dressy? Or 3 casual and one dressy? That is up to me, I think. This allows us some flexibility with wardrobe size and permits a certain amount of variety in the closet, which could otherwise become quite boring. 

I think it's pretty clear for me also that sweaters of some kind are "essentials" -- but how many would I call "essential"? 

I don't think there are any right or wrong answers here -- but I do think that perhaps thinking in these terms could help some of us establish baseline numbers for a wardrobe (which we could then test out as practical or impractical over a year or two by tracking wears and happiness factor.) 

Tracking wears shows us if an item is truly getting worn. And tracking "happiness factor" may show us that even if worn infrequently, the item has deep value in our closet. I own several items like this and they are not all statement or trend items. Some of my dresses fall into this category. I don't get to wear them often because of my casual lifestyle, yet they are still core essentials because I could not get dressed for certain occasions without them -- and they offer high happiness factor, which also contributes to their worth in my closet. 

Some people might need to add 10 statement items per season. Others, only 2. There might be years where statement items themselves had all worn out and you would need to replace more. But again, it gives one pathway. 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this? As Shedev pointed out, this system can only work for those who already have a working closet with all the essentials (or most of them) covered -- and can probably only work for those whose style is fairly well defined. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Alassë replied 3 years ago

    This is great, Suz. Thanks for expanding your thoughts and posting them in a new thread.

  • Elizabeth P replied 3 years ago

    I have thought about doing something like this... it strikes me as a good way to maintain some control, yet still have fun. And well-thought out fun.

    But I'd need four seasons.  Or six :)

    Somebody (I'm pretty sure on here, but I can't remember who) also put core/essential pieces over $100 into their five pieces, which also makes a lot of sense, esp if you are doing this for budget reasons, not just churn reasons.  This would help your bootie question... go ahead and get five pairs if you want, but then you're done. 

  • texstyle replied 3 years ago

    I wonder if people who feel they "churn" a lot are the same people who mostly order online? It often "feels" like you are buying more because your dressing room is in your house so you may have to try several shipments of a particular item before choosing one. This to me feels like churn, but it is a different matter - one that causes more shipping traffic of course.

  • Sterling replied 3 years ago

    What a great post, Suz.  Thank you for tackling this issue head on.  I missed your comment on El Cee's Week 5 Thread. 

    Shedev's process has interested me in the past, but I wasn't ready to commit.  I am going to try it in 2017, starting with Spring/Summer.  My goal is to add five statement pieces. 

    Texstyle.  I am one of those that feels like there is a lot of churn.  I do 95% of my shopping online.  I don't know if I could ever give up online shopping.  I love the convenience of browsing online at any time that is convenient to me (and no parking issues).  I have wondered about all the cardboard boxes I break down every week.  Of course, that hasn't stopped me or caused me to wonder too long.   

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Tex, I think that's a good point -- those of us shopping online may perceive more "churn" than is actually the case! Although, to be honest, I replace/ upgrade about a third of my medium sized wardrobe a year. Some of that is due to wear -- mostly in the essentials categories, particularly knits, which have a short lifespan, and footwear, which I can be hard on if I don't have many pairs to rotate. Also summer tops, which don't last long due to frequent laundering.

    But a huge amount is simply due to style evolution. Preference. I like to be current. 

    I DO have items in my closet that I've owned and loved since joining YLF six years ago. (Almost nothing pre-dates that due to my size changes -- I couldn't really keep clothes after I'd lost weight. ) 

    Most of my 5-6 year old items are, indeed, "essentials" -- coats, a dress or two, a couple of pairs of jeans that miraculously haven't worn out, denim jacket, a few woven shirts. 

    Most of my trend items come and go. 

    Elizabeth, I'm not going to do it for budget reasons. I couldn't handle it if shopping were over at 5 pairs of booties!! I've already purchased 4 new pair this year, 5 if you count my "indoor" slipper booties! And I still want at least one more pair....  ;) 

    Sterling, I think if we consider it less as a strict "five piece" idea and simply consider breaking the wardrobe down into those categories and make very careful purchases of the trend or statement items, it might lead to a very well curated wardrobe. 

    Angie does something similar without the "5 piece" stricture -- she replaces/ upgrades her essentials whenever she sees the options there and feels the need, and adds statement items each season to lend currency. She usually purchases more than 5 statements, but she's a fashion professional. Speaking for myself, 5 "fun" items per season would probably be too few for me also, but limiting it to some number might be helpful in reducing my purchasing. And just doing the classification exercise -- what are "essentials," what are "statements" could be super useful to me and show me what I am missing in my wardrobe and why I might be tempted to purchase. 

  • shedev replied 3 years ago

    I didn't know you were considering this, Suz. I would do the four seasons, especially since you like to change your colors seasonally.
    The first year, I did no budget at all, and everything less than $100 was a basic. I got some spectacular stuff, filled all my holes, and spent a lot of dough.
    This fall, I have no holes, so I tightened up on my definitions a little and decided on a budget. I'll do this seasonally, but I will decide at the beginning of the season and stick to the plan I made. It does force me to pass on some things that I would have bought before, but I think that is why it is good for curating. I don't regret any of those non purchases. I don't pre-decide what my 5 will be.
    Here is what is on my radar for winter. Upscale puffer, deep red sweater, winter boots grey, winter boots post apoc vibe.
    I'm considering making something in velvet. I'm not sure where that fits into the plan. I think I might consider it as a creative endeavor and it would be kind of a third thing.

  • Isabel replied 3 years ago

    Suz...awesome description. Is this what is also referred to as the "French Five piece wardrobe" ?  It seems somewhat similar.

    I started doing the Common Wardrobe about 3 years ago and it works SO well for me. It really keeps me focused and fits my lifestyle so well - SAHM.  It also allows me to focus on things that I love and are easier for me : scarves, jewelry, some fun shoes. I have started rotating things too. So I separate out my scarves and then rotate them in groups. Same with my jewelry. That way I never feel bored.

    My one big update this year was a pair of flat shoes and some really cute rain boots. Those were needs for a functioning wardrobe for me.

    I haven't down much churning. I just don't need it and have found what I have to really sate me and be very useful. 

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Isabel, so nice to hear your voice here. Yes, I think you are the perfect candidate for the "core wardrobe" concept because you get a ton of variety with scarves and other accessories. I do this, too, but I get bored anyway, LOL. It turns out that while I ADORE colour and it makes me happy, just changing the colour of my top or scarf isn't enough to make me feel I've had variety. Nothing spells "variety" to me but a change of silhouette. So that is why my wardrobe has to be a bit larger-- to accommodate different silhouettes. (This is why I love summer dressing because I got to rotate shorts and pants with dresses and skirts. In winter it's harder.)

    Shedev, I need to think some about what my essentials are. I think they're different for each season in part because of the extreme climate. I'm' going to make some lists. I'm also going to count the emotional experience. I mean, practically, it is not "essential" for me to have a light coloured bootie and a darker one. But emotionally, it IS essential. 

    I saw one woman's list of basics included a lace dress and a statement skirt! Hilarious but also instructive, because if you attend a ton of events, you definitely need event wear and it is essential!! 

  • rachylou replied 3 years ago

    I always get a little bit muddled when I think about statement v. core / basic / essential AND neutral items. It may have to do with a tendency towards reductionism... everything is either a top, bottom or topper to me. Lol.

    However, I *was* going to write on shedev's thread that I think I'm starting to get my head wrapped around the 5-piece wardrobe. My thinking is this: you simply select 5, and only 5, items to refresh / amplify your looks/outfits. The statement doesn't have to be something that's added over a neutral base (although, you'll probably want and need neutral base items like that). The statement *can* be something that serves as part of the base stuff that keeps you covered (i.e., top or bottom or topper).

    Now, I suppose this is obvious. But when I start thinking about it, yes, I get confused. I mean, how can you have a statement top when for sure you better be wearing one when you leave the house... or risk frostbite and arrest. Does this not mean all tops are basic?

    And I mean, wouldn't it be rather limiting if pants were always your 'essential base' and all your 'statements' were tops?

    I guess my point is - you need neutral basics and statement basics.

    Right. Ok. So now that I have y'all in a twist: The 5-piece seems a great way to limit churn, IMO, and make you really focus and hone your style.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 3 years ago

    LOL, Rachy, this is my problem too. I can never decide where the line is between "statement" and "basic" for myself. 


  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Rachy, I hear you -- I have this problem a little bit, too. I think it's more like you decide on your core essentials, which (as per Angie) will be different for each woman. Yeah, sure, for some, those lists (e.g. white shirt, black pencil skirt, trench, blazer) will in fact be the core. But your core might be puffer coat, puffer coat, puffer coat, skirt, blouse, and funky boots.  And your statement/ trend item might be yet ANOTHER puffer coat (in a different design.)

  • Cerinda replied 3 years ago

    I aspire to the fabled five pieces, too, Suz, and agree it's complicated by silhouette and seasonality.

    I've been pinning and pondering wide-legs and culottes for almost a year:  over two seasons I acquired 3 casual (2 denim) and two that work for both casual chic and dressy.  That's three out of the proposed five fall/winter statement pieces without  ANY third pieces.  Ouch! I have also started varying my palette by season:  fall/winter (got that!), winter/spring, and warm.  I started on the "warm" last summer; I'll tackle "spring" this year.  Operating within my budget, this is taking me a while:  just essentials and basics so far.  

    And I don't even need much variety!  And have a moderate climate!  How much more complicated this is with other constraints!

  • Isabel replied 3 years ago

    Suz, that is so interesting to me. Different silhouettes means being overwhelmed to me.  ; ) 

  • Emily K replied 3 years ago

    It is so interesting to see how different people are relating to this differently.  As I've been trying to figure out how to build a better wardrobe, I've been reading about a lot of different wardrobe systems.  Most are minimalist--which suits the planet/ethical issues quite well in addition to being relatable to me (a person with a small existing wardrobe).  The "French 5-piece" wardrobe differs from other plans in that it advocates buying statement pieces on schedule whereas other plans simply seek to help one to limit one's wardrobe or to craft it into a better-working whole.  I rather like the sense of permission given by this.  

    I've never been too hung-up by the "statement" tag--to me it simply means that the item does not necessarily have to follow the strict guidelines of utility and compatibility to which you'd subject your core items.

  • Sal replied 3 years ago

    I can see this working best for people who have a distinct style (Shedev. Deborah spring to mind), rather than people who like to update more of their style based on fashion/trends.

    For me, I could see it working as I like a core style (simple dresses/plain jeans/sporty looks) and then add a few statement pieces.

    I could see it as a way to add better quality glorious pieces and stop being tempted by more.  

    Suz - you don't seem to overbuy, and choose pieces wisely.  I wonder if you are already doing this approach in a way.  For example your new pink jacket and culottes might be 2 of your 5 pieces...ankle boots might be replacing essentials.

    I think to avoid churn, you probably need to have a one in/one out strategy for essentials.  For example with jeans you may decide 4 blue, 2 white, 1 black, 1 coloured may be your core level.  While you may replace blue skinnies with blue crops they form the core of your wardrobe.  If you want an additional pair then it would form one of your five items....

  • peacechick replied 3 years ago

    Could we say neutral color items are basics? Black tees, basic black dress, black cardigans, blue and black jeans, moto jackets, all neutral shoes and boots: the kind of thing that go with just about anything?

    And statement would be anything with print, color and texture, or that adds drama or edge?

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Peacechick, you could define it that way if it worked for you. For me, that would be WAY too limiting. I couldn't live with a core closet of only plain neutrals...even though I happen to love plain neutrals...and 5 pieces with colour, pattern, texture, shine, edge would no way be enough for my closet. So some of my "essentials" would have those qualities already. Of course some would not -- a jean, a turtleneck sweater in winter -- but even the fabled Breton striped sweater is, well...patterned! :)

    Sally, I like that idea, of setting out the parameters -- how many denim, etc. That's basically what I am planning to do. And you're right -- in a way this is what I do, but I seem to buy a lot more than 5 items per season! So sure, the culottes and the pink jacket might be 2 of the 5....but let us not forget the fancy gilet, and the SEVERAL pair of booties (so not all were replacements!). 

  • Sal replied 3 years ago

    Suz, moving forward though...are you happy with the ankle boot numbers?  If you think you have it about right then additional pairs count as one of your five special pieces, or replacing a pair of your essentials....And I would expect you to have more boots than me, given your climate and lifestyle.  Some years are great for footwear!!  And of course in two-three years you may have moved towards tall boots or mid calf boots or even it is always fluid and there are "grey areas".

    We do have seasons/years where we buy more - I am having one now...I have blown my budget and bought more than I did for the last two years...but I was getting pretty skinny in a couple of areas and most of my 24 new items have been great and I love wearing and have worn a lot of.  There have been some mistakes too - three tops that I like but don't wear often, a cardigan with holes, some gold ballet flats that are nice but I feel a bit dated in.

  • unfrumped replied 3 years ago

    I'm interested and have not been able to fixate on a " system." I think I don't want I admit that boundaries would be good!

    I don't tend to wear out my clothes, so that says something. It means when I add things it's harder to toss something because items are still good. So obviously I don't need to add unless I'm going to commit to 1- In/out and I keep fudging on that.

    Gaylene's posts on deciding on item numbers and not $$ per se is where I should be, I think because I know it would be better for me to have more space, breathing room, less putting away, and refresh with new pieces after wearing things more often.

  • shedev replied 3 years ago

    Peacechick, where would that leave my wardrobe of black hard edge pieces.
    The culottes would be an essential unless they are premium denim, much the same way that my TR fit into the plan.
    Maybe a good measure is if you think of the piece is a statement or upscale piece. I'll use two of my winter tops for an example. the first is a black and grey cheetah print from Forever 21. The second is a black with snake print sleeves in shades of grey and white cashmere sweater by Equipment. I'd call the first an essential and the second a 5. My reasons are that it was an investment and that it looks luxe.
    I spent a lot of time trying to define this for myself.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Thank you, Shedev, for the additional info. I think if each of us defines it in a way that makes sense for our own closet, this type of system can really work. I'm very intrigued and plan to get busy making up an "essentials" list for myself for this season and then backtrack and consider which of my purchases were 5 and which were essentials. And whether I already went over my 5!  But maybe 5 isn't even the right number for me -- maybe 6 or 7 is my magic number. We'll see. 

    Unfrumped, I think this is kind of similar to Gaylene's idea -- you buy 10 items a year (or whatever) on her plan. This would also be 10 items a year. 

    Sally, thanks for the support (and so glad you are enjoying most of your 24 new items!!) I think my numbers are a bit high in the booties category. There are a few that I am not giving away even though I am wearing them less. The thing is -- with footwear, and really, with all things -- I wear my newer items most!! And have SOOOO much more love for them. Exceptions are the "perfect" navy blazer (which I love no matter how old), the "perfect" jean, the "perfect" coat. Those, I never tire of. Maybe that is a clue to what my essentials truly are? But there are only a few. In general I love my new things. 

    This may suggest that churn is going to happen for me anyway because my style is somewhat trend driven. Hmmm. 

  • unfrumped replied 3 years ago

    Suz, I think that's right. The trick is to have discipline to buy fewer items, but be more attuned to the need for these to be a bit trend- driven, not meaning fast fashion per se, but " fresh" and then not be bothered by wanting to replace them. I think I can't have it both ways.
    I still want to find more luxurious items but also I need not to buy things just to have a classic this or that- cashmere sweater, blazer- unless I'm really feeling the love. I tend to think I can stock my closet with classics or basics in every area, multiple colors and weights, but then wonder why they may seem " off" in a year or 2. It's actually better to leave some holes!

  • bj1111 replied 3 years ago

    Need a definition of "churn"--1 is not, 50 is likely is. At what number does it slide from replacement /updating to churn?

    Ultimately, if variety is what floats your boat, churn is inevitable. More interested in what is really underlying this feeling--not budget ...ethics, sense of waste, need to tweak/be more mindful?

    In shedev's case, she clearly articulated the desire to wear her style aesthetic all the time. Her response was the logical conclusion.

  • replied 3 years ago

    I'm so happy you and shedev have reminded me of the 5 piece wardrobe.
    I always forget about statement pieces and I'm positive this is why I always feel malaise when I think of my wardrobe. I rather *like* everything I wear, but do I *love* it? No...

    I NEED statement pieces! And I mean, statements are different for everybody, but I'm thinking, for *myself*, what I need are bright colours this winter. All the muddy colours are lovely (burgundy especially) but really blend in.

    I see your red boots Suz, and I'm inspired to add bright red. I see Angie's vibrant travel capsule (I think you saw it too) and I'm inspired to add some leopard and bright blue.

    Can i add 5 bright, vibrant, cheerful winter things to my wardrobe on my budget?
    That's the big question... :-)

    I think of the 5 things as injecting some fuel into your wardrobe. A way to really move your style forward. I don't think of it as a solution to churn.

    My thoughts are little random today.

  • Sal replied 3 years ago

    Sorry to keep coming back....there are some gems here!!

    I really liked this comment by unfrumped, "it is better to leave some holes" with reference to feeling bored by classic items!!  I totally agree here.  if you have a hole you can fill it with a new/trendy/wildcard item, but if all the holes are filled with classics or essentials, there is not the budget (or space)...

    I agree Smittie, the five piece adds interest or fun or statement pieces.  I can see for your lifestyle and climate gorgeous winter coloured knitwear  would be great - and it is hard to find!!  I actually always love your WIW though and see your style as fun and vibrant.  A super cool bag is another way and for me it was amazing how much better winter was style wise when I bought a new beanie that I loved!

  • replied 3 years ago

    A new beanie. Great idea kiwi!

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Great questions and conversation! Thanks for weighing in, all. I do think this idea is open to different interpretations and can even satisfy different needs. It could be budget or purely ethical -- I think in my case, Bj111, it's a combination of a slight puritanical guilt when I think of the negative impact my love of fashion might be having on others and the environment...combined with a desire to refine my style still further. Maybe along the lines of what Shedev said. Giving serious thought to what my essentials are (and how many seem reasonable) and what my "fun" or statement items might be will help me get more. 

    But it's true, could still have a lot of churn with this system if you replaced all your essentials every year! 

    And yeah, I am not sure what "churn" is. And there is no reason for "five" -- it's kind of arbitrary. But. 

    I guess I will define churn in my own way just as I define the whole system my way, thereby probably defeating the whole purpose, LOL.

    Smittie, I think maybe you and I share a tendency to put our money into the essentials and then wonder why the wardrobe feels "flat." I need statement items, too. Like Sally, I always love your WIWs and think you have a vibrant and fun style -- but I also know that one colourful or interesting item per winter isn't enough. Our winters are so darn long. Maybe our winters count for double. ;)  

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    Ok I have to come back to this thread after I am a bit more awake but my fast answer (that may not follow the flow of the comments that I look forward to reading) is I get my statements mostly from second hand shops of various sorts. They are pre-churned that way. :)

  • Joy replied 3 years ago

    Suz, I have enjoyed reading this thread, especially addressing churn and essentials vs statement pieces, but have had computer problems and lost my attempts at posting.  This time I will go in stages.

    I have always thought of my most essential essentials as neutrals with which I can make a column of color in different ways.  I use them to showcase the statement pieces.  Of course with seasons, one needs these essentials in different fabrics and styles for summer vs winter, maybe even different colors.  The Vivienne Files uses the same idea in the 4X4 Wardrobe...Two bottoms and two tops or top and topper in the same color.  In winter these might be wool pants, a pencil skirt or jeans with a pullover sweater, cardigan or jacket, or long sleeved blouse/shirt.

    In summer shorts and crops and sleeveless tops could be substituted.  Of course these essentials need to be replaced with the most current styles, like cropped pants or flares.  They may have some interesting design details and Angie is so good at finding pieces that are essentials but still can make a statement...a ruffle, exposed zipper, interesting sleeve.

    If one has top and topper for the column of color, one can add statement pieces either outside (contrasting or patterned topper) or inside (contrasting or patterned top under the topper that matches the bottom.  Since I am short, the column of color either way can add a bit of height.

  • Joy replied 3 years ago

    I like to have at least one set of light and one set of dark neutrals each season.  That way almost any statement piece I find has a way of being worn.  The problem is still to figure out how many essential pieces and colors I need to keep from getting bored. 

  • Lyn D. replied 3 years ago

    This is really interesting!
    My definition of statement needs to be items $100 and over- this way the 'churn' is slowed by budgetary constraints.

  • Karie replied 3 years ago

    Very interesting and useful/helpful post, Suz. My closet doesn't churn as much as it "bulges" because this summer and fall season it just kept getting bigger. t'd actually like to take some time and evaluate what I already have and what I recently purchased, and put the items into the "basic" and "statement" categories.

    How many basics and how many statements do I actually need? Wow, that's a hard question for me to answer. Less than what I have, because I simply can't wear everything that is in my closet, unless I want to change outfits two or three times a day.

    It would be useful to do a spreadsheet for this, as well as, as you mentioned, tracking wears and happiness factor. Do you remember the forum member Mo? She used to do spreadsheets all the time (she has her own blog over at MOderatewardrobe).

    Defining those sub-categories will be difficult. I always thought of basics as undergarments and things like that. If I'm expanding that category, would I consider my pencil skirts a "basic" because I need them for dressy wear for work? And what about blazers? More of a "statement" because I wear them for work and outside of work? These are questions for me to ponder on. This is where it gets tricky for me.

    I will definitely give this a lot more thought over the weekend. Thanks for starting and continuing the conversation.

  • Helen11 replied 3 years ago

    Very interesting thread. I am nowhere near ready to implement something like this, I need to take stock and track wears and happiness factor first.
    I do want to be mindful of waste.
    I love Shevia's pre-churned items!

  • Style Fan replied 3 years ago

    This is a interesting post.  My wardrobe is essentials.  I look to accessories for statements.  I didn't plan it that way but I have always been drawn to the look of simple outfits with interesting accessories.  Think Jennifer Aniston.  If I buy a statement sweater then it sits neglected in my wardrobe.
    I would like to add a gorgeous scarf to my collection.  A Burberry or something like that.  I am thinking paisley though because I tend to wear paisleys and other patterns get neglected.
    Didn't Jenn do something like this?

  • Sterling replied 3 years ago

    I could be happy with a dark bottom (black, navy) and a white top for the rest of my life.  I am sure why that is, but I always feel so "safe" in this combination.  I type this wearing dark denim and a crisp white blouse.  I do feel safe (and well dressed). 

    Perhaps my statement pieces would be less statement and more "best quality I can afford" that would not be subject to wardrobe churn because they are well made and sufficiently trend-less to last for years. 

  • chadya replied 3 years ago

    @Sterling  you said you buy 95% of your stuff online, do you ever just want to get out and go shopping? just to look and see whats there

    I am the other side of that coin, I never buy any clothing that I can't look at first

  • Alexandra replied 3 years ago

    Interesting post, Suz. It made me realize that I think of basics in terms of plain pieces, unadorned, that require accessories to finish off the look. Statement pieces to me are those that have trim or other embellishment and are therefore "self-accessorized", even though that doesn't mean accessories couldn't be added.

    I sense that I am moving in a more statement-y, art-y direction in my sewing (within the bounds of my fairly classic style, of course, no Lagenlook here). I am at the very beginning stage of this so the top I made this week (see pic) has much more trim than I usually put on my things and yet it feels like it needs something more. I'm going to make a black brooch with white detailing for it today.

  • Sterling replied 3 years ago

    Hi Chadya -- That is a good question.  Yes.  There are times when I very much desire to go to the mall .... just to walk around and see what is out there.  I love window shopping.  I love the energy of the mall.  I love being able to touch all the fabrics.  I love Starbucks. 

    There is a major mall half way between my home and work.  I stop by at least once a week just to walk around and check out sales and new merchandise.  And I love seeing how the stores put outfits together. 

    The thing is I don't tend to buy at the mall.  I prefer to try things on in the comfort of my home.  So whether I buy at the mall or online, I still try it on at home. 

    If I find something online that I love and want to duplicate, I'll run to the mall to buy it because I already know it works for me.  But I likely bought the first one online. 

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Great post, fascinating thread.

    I think different approaches work for different people. I don't care for churn either, but I never got my head around the 5 piece concept and I like having a large wardrobe with lots of variety. I love wearing new stuff, but I'm just as happy pulling an old favourite out of the closet and finding a new way to style it.

    I decided a while ago that for me, the only sane thing to do was not to worry too much about trends and invest in quality pieces that made my heart sing, rather than just buy things because I thought I wanted this or that trending item. At the same time, I was trying to put together a more business-appropriate wardrobe for meeting with clients, which meant I had to find a few nice blazers and some good shoes, for which I applied the same reasoning.

    This produced a very eclectic selection of wonderful things I loved but struggled to style, which was where I was a couple of years ago when I started posting here. I was very happy with the clothes themselves, but look was all over the place. 

    I then started shopping with more of a focus on what I needed, so if I saw something, I'd try to identify what niche it was filling and how I'd wear it. Then I became more practiced at keeping in mind an overview of what I could use, so I'd recognise them when they came up.

    I'm now at the point where I feel the whole collection is becoming more pulled together and I know how to shop to keep it up to date. I notice that the things that turn over and get purged tend to be the cheaper mass-produced items, which wear out more quickly that they loose their relevance. I do think there's a place for this kind of wardrobe obsolescence, but I'm far happier having a big selection of timeless statement pieces and personal classics.

    Does that make sense?

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Liz, that does make sense. I think perhaps for some of the the "5 piece" people, yours is the wardrobe they are working towards. They may have relied overly on fast fashion in the past and their goal is to buy fewer but better items that will stand the test of time. Of course you don't have to limit yourself to 5 to do that, but you might want to, either due to budgetary constraints, or simply because constraints breed creativity. 

    I don't "worry" about trends so much as I enjoy playing around with them. So part of the wardrobe is trend driven -- even though most of it (like Smittie's) is pretty much hanger after hanger of best-quality-I-can-afford "essentials."

    Here's how the 5 piece people (or some of them, anyway) define "basic" -- what Angie would call and "essential."

    A basic is something that…

    1. I can wear this over and over and over again until it falls apart.
    2. Goes with everything I already own.
    3. I pretty much can’t live without it.
    4. Is the glue that helps me keep the rest of my wardrobe together.
    5. Is made of a good material that will last for a very long time.

     I'm still trying to define what I mean by "churn." Of course some is inevitable and maybe even desirable. I think an edited closet works so much better than a bloated one (for me at least).

    I tend NOT to feel guilty about replacing items that are truly worn out or items that I wore the heck out of to the point that I am simply tired of them. I feel a little more guilty when I get rid of pricier items that I didn't wear much, or tops that are not, strictly speaking, worn out, but "worn" in my own mind, because I have grown bored of the pattern. This happens to me from time to time. Also, with my weakness for footwear, I sometimes have to stop and ask myself, how many booties do you really need????   (However, so far the answer is: An indefinite number.)  ;)

    Alexandra, that is a very simple classic top but I agree that the framing adds an additional punch to it. It's going to look great on you! 

    Style Fan -- how about your green wedding guest dress? That looks like a statement to me, no? But then again, in one list I saw, a woman included a statement skirt and lace dress in her list of "essentials" and following these criteria (above) they could fit the category. 

    Sterling, you love your white tops and dark bottoms! They must love you back. I love a white top and dark bottom, too. Alas, I wouldn't be happy dressing in that uniform every day. I wonder why some of us like a uniform and some do not? I'm happy to repeat outfits, don't get me wrong -- in fact, I regularly repeat many, many times within a season. I just like to repeat different outfits. 

    Helen, you are wise not to try this while you are building a wardrobe and a style. We need to experiment and play first. 

    Karie, I laughed at the image of your closet. Maybe it needs shapewear? Or maybe you just need a larger closet. You enjoy variety and playing with new things and I think your style has undergone a slight shift in the past year as well. 

    Lyn, I think a lot of people who do the 5 piece thing do define statement by cost. 

    Joy, I think essentials can be more than plain neutrals, although for some that is what they would be. For me, for instance, a cocktail dress of some kind is pretty much an essential. I hardly ever wear it, but boy do I need it when I need it. A red coat might be an essential for me as well -- goodness knows I've owned one for the past 20 years of my life and feel the need of it. 

  • RobinF replied 3 years ago

    I love this discussion. I am still trying to figure out what I want my look to be, but it makes a lot of sense to think through purchases like this instead of just buying whatever strikes my fancy and then trying to make it work. I'll have to think about what my basics are because I can see how that is definitely different for everyone. I know that I like variety so I don't think 5 statement pieces would be enough but then again, it probably depends on how my basics can be worn. Agh, so much to think about! 

  • Meredith replied 3 years ago

    I think this strategy would require too much mental churn (for me). I can think of a few times when I have gone on a quest to find the magical rainbow unicorn version of a shirt or dress only to wind up exasperated and thinking about all the time wasted. I could have served at a soup kitchen or planted a tree or taken a friend out to coffee (or all three) in that time!

    That said, I do practice a similar, but less rigid version. I am a huge fan of essentials as Angie defines them. I have an essentials capsule that I try to keep well-stocked. But I would NEVER be happy only pulling clothes from the essentials capsule. Too neutral! So I also have my statements capsule. I don't limit the number of additions, but when considering a statements I do think about CPW (just casually in my head as I'm contemplating the purchase). Is the item a one season wardrobe refresher and, if so, how many times can I reasonably expect to wear the item? Is the CPW reasonable? This really eliminates a lot of maybes. Then there are statements I love and hope will have some longevity in my closet. I don't care as much about CPW in those a cases. In the end I still have churn. I experiment, I make mistakes, but I can already see how this process has helped me eliminate at least some sub-par or mindless purchases.

  • chadya replied 3 years ago


    interesting to read everyone's approach,
    I don't need a thing
    sometimes I just like to walk and look, but when I need or want it  I don't want to wait for it to come in the mail.

  • Joy replied 3 years ago

    I agree with what Meredith said. As much as I need those essential neutral pieces, I also need the statements or I would not be happy. Right now I need to evaluate those statement pieces. Most are my most expensive items.
    Suz, I also agree that those dressy items that don't get worn much are essential because they are there when needed. For those I try for styles that will not date quickly. The higher the happiness factor, the longer I will keep something. I am at the place where adding just 5 carefully chosen pieces a season is doable if I don't change the silhouette too much and also need the supporting pieces.

  • bj1111 replied 3 years ago

    i've been looking for just the right white cotton shirt for three years.  it's a basic when worn under jackets/cardis but also need to be a statement piece when worn alone.  these purchases make it hard to use the statement vs basic definition.  harder if we use essential as the comparison to statement since my closet clearly functions without it, tho would be improved with it.

  • Gaylene replied 3 years ago

    As someone predisposed towards analyzing and planning, I'm trying to do less of that these days to keep my (much smaller) wardrobe functional and interesting. Sounds weird, but, for me, it works.

    My "aha" moment was realizing trying to categorize items as "essentials", "basics", and "statements" missed the major factor FOR ME which was learning to discern a "want" from a "need"--and, even more important, to be very selective about defining what was a "need".

    I now choose to define "need" as that 10-15% of my closet which I'd grab if I knew I had to live solely in those clothes--and only those clothes--for a year. My choices would be based largely on instinct and emotion, with my analytical side showing up as that little, practical voice whispering in my ear "Hey, missy, you better throw in a warm jacket and pair of waterproof boots or you'll freeze!" Everyone's answer to "What would you take out of your closet if you had to fit everything into a couple of suitcases and had to live in ONLY those clothes for a year?" is obviously going to be different. My "needs"--or "essentials"--aren't boring to me; they are at the core of who I am and how I live.

    I've given myself permission to want variety and beautiful things--and to buy things that give me pleasure-- as long as I stop thinking of them as "needs". I find calling something as a "want" gives me the mental power and distance to control my impulses. My "needs" receive the highest priority because I know these are the pieces I truly require. I cull unwise wants that make it into my closet as soon as possible by acknowledging my mistake and trying to find new homes for those pieces as soon as possible. A mistake isn't a total loss if I learn something from it. Calling something a "want" lets me choose to have another piece of cake, or to walk away.

  • Style Fan replied 3 years ago

    Suz you are right about my green special occasion dress.  It is a statement.  I put my special occasion capsule in its own category.  My everyday clothes are different.  Until someone points out differently.  Like my orange coat!  :)

  • rachylou replied 3 years ago

    I went and re-read Angie's wisdom on essentials.

    So now, thinking about this honestly, I wear the following a lot:

    Crops (narrow)
    Apron/mini skirts
    Tees (fancy and plain, not graphic)
    Faux wrap dresses
    Mid calf boots
    Coats - puffers, dusters, bombers

    But depending, sometimes these are the statement and sometimes they're the backdrop. So... I guess I'm still sticking to the idea of same silhouette and statement/neutral versions of each component.

    Now, I guess there's a question of needing more neutrals or more statements in each category...

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Gaylene, the suitcase analogy is a very interesting thought experiment. Thing is, I know myself and that subsection of my wardrobe would change from year to year. What I throw in the suitcase this year would be different from last year, and next year I might want something different again. I can't take it all, but neither do I want to replace it when I want a change of style. A sustainable wardrobe for me is a wardrobe I can shop.

    Then again, I have no end of admiration for anyone who can dress successfully from a tiny wardrobe. Kudos to you. 

  • shedev replied 3 years ago

    I don't think that the basics(essentials) have to be neutrals. If you are a colors person than they can be colors. I wear just about all neutrals, both the essentials and the statements. I like the little details in my clothes, so they show up in both essential and statement items. This made trying to figure out what is essential or statement really hard for me. I came up with a working concept that my statements, are mostly upscale or luxe, are a piece I plan to have for many years, and moves my style forward. Last year, I found a short poncho as my version of the trend. It was my fun little experimentation, and I'd have been ok if it would have been a one year wonder. I've worn it this season so it will get at least 2 years. I think trend can show up as either basics or statements. Some trends are so in tune with an individuals personal style that they will remain relevant to the individual far beyond the popularity of the trend. These I'd invest in, like my version of the gilet. Other times there are fun things I'd like to try, like the poncho.
    Funny story about statements, I went to a boutique in Cleveland that I do a good portion of my local shopping at. I was wearing all pieces that I had bought as my statement pieces (apparently I need no basics) Vince hoody, TR jeans, and RO Adidas booties. I was in the back with the SA who helps me in the store. The owner came back cause she wanted to see the shoes.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Shedev, what a great story! And thank you for this discussion. I really agree with everything you've said here. I think the definitions have to be personal or they won't work at all. 

    I'm going to consider mine over the next few days. 

  • peacechick replied 3 years ago

    suz and shedev, haha, you're right. I'm not ready for the 5-piece concept either. I'm still exploring what my foundation should be first.

  • shedev replied 3 years ago

    I'm looking forward to what you decide, Suz, I'm sure you will find what works for you.

  • bonnie replied 3 years ago

    I'm learning a lot from these posts. I've just completed my first year of wardrobe building and started keeping records of what I wear about 6 months ago which has really been informative. I need two totally different wardrobes for our two dominant seasons; hot and mild. We're just finishing up the hot season and I was surprised to see that I did pretty well planning for it. My few bottoms and sandals got lots of wears and my tops not so many wears but I have a lot of them. Next year I'll replace the bottoms and sandals but they will have served me well. I think that's acceptable churn. In 6 months time, I'll see how my mild weather wardrobe works. It's more complicated than the hot season weather because it's more variable. I'll need lightweight, medium weight, and a few warm toppers to cover the temperature span. By tracking wears, I'll be able to see what I need and be able to better plan my purchases next year. 

  • Jenn replied 3 years ago

    Sorry, I'm so late to respond here (it's crazy-time here from mid-October through mid-December), but I've been doing the 5-piece for the past two seasons (I do s/s and f/w), and I kind of retroactively defined some statements from my wardrobe rebuilding season last fall, as well, for tracking purposes.

    My rule is that anything anything over $100 is automatically one of the 5, and basics/essentials need to be neutral building blocks. I wouldn't hesitate to put a high-quality neutral essential into my 5, but I often try to buy my basics on sale so I can get higher quality in under the threshold. 

    This has worked really well for me. It's made more thoughtful about the things I'm buying while, simultaneously, making me a little more willing to spend $$ on things that are truly special. I also, honestly, find it fun. I really enjoy the shopping and pondering and daydreaming involved in collecting just 5 great pieces each season.

    Just for reference and explanation, here are some examples of basics vs. statements from the past couple seasons in my wardrobe.

    Basics: black ponte pants, burgundy cropped pants, black wool sweater (bought on sale), white silk blend blouse, olive twill joggers, black cross-front tank

    Statements: fur vest, leather sandals (an essential that ran over $100), plaid dress, silk kimono, leather jacket, wool poncho

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Jenn, thanks for weighing in and the refresher on your items. I had sort of followed along with you and Shedev but without actually thinking I might try it. Now I'm seriously considering. Although I just made a list and I've already bought 5 statement like items and know I want some more for winter. I might have to break it down more into 3 or 4 seasons, I think. Hmmm. Still pondering. 

    Now, if I followed you on price, only 3 of these items would be statement items. The booties and jeans were a lot less than $100 each. 

  • Jenn replied 3 years ago

    Suz, I wouldn't call the jeans in your selection above statements, and I'd be borderline on the culottes depending on how you wear them.

    I should clarify that, for me, a price tag under $100 doesn't necessarily make something a basic. Just the opposite is true...over $100 automatically makes it part of the five. $100 is an arbitrary theshold, too. I think the original blog post I based this on had a threshold of $200 or $250.

  • replied 3 years ago

    Denim should be automatically excluded from your 5 statements if it is also your essential. ;-)

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Yeah...well, I was thinking that these were clear trend items. As in, a pair of slim jeans would be "essential" but a pair of denim culottes is a trend-driven experiment, so a "statement." And could be that the "jean of the season" is an essential for me. I mean, I can't really get dressed without current denim, so in that sense it for sure qualifies. 

    Hmmm. Still debating the categories! 

  • shedev replied 3 years ago

    I think that both pairs of pants would be essentials. I see them grounding your other items. Also, you could begin fresh by not counting these items since the 5 piece wasn't in effect at the time they were bought. I had just done a major jean refresh when I first started the 5.

  • replied 3 years ago

    Fascinating thread.
    I have considered the 5 piece approach, but I also have been stymied by how to define essesntials. Still working on a plan that makes sense for my lifestyle.

  • DonnaF replied 3 years ago

    Is it churn if one rarely gets rid of anything?  I'm thinking I need to make a trip to BB&B to get a set of interlocking dress hangers so I can fit more dresses in my closet. . .

    I really can't think of any absolute Essentials other than those I would describe in the most generic of terms.  Jeans in different cuts.  A few pencil skirts for work.  Lots of stuff in gray.  Black'n'white/cream patterns.  I don't like to over pack, so after a trip I tend to be thoroughly sick of whatever I packed so I don't want to wear those clothes for quite awhile.  And I've been known to go back to wearing something that I haven't worn for a year or two or three.

    I can think of a few items I have that are maybe 7s or possibly 8s instead of 9s or 10s -- a blue and a white button front shirt to be exact -- but I'm not motivated to replace them and ditch what I have because I doubt that I would wear perfect *10*s any more often than I wear the ones I have.

    But I am mostly drawn to cheap statement pieces.  Okay, quirky ones.  And footwear that will prove to be comfortable on my uber fussy feet.  Footwear: The Holy Grail. 

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Thanks for explaining the 5-piece philosophy. I think I'm beginning to understand now :)

    It dawned on me that one of the reasons this approach hasn't worked for me in the past is that my shopping/dressmaking strategies never really supported it. I still shop mostly opportunistically so my closet is made up largely of serendipitous finds, but what's changed in the last couple of years is that I'm focusing more on things that will pull the long-standing favourites into a coherent look, which means I have a much clearer view on what my YLF essentials (or 5-piece basics) ought to be.

    My wardrobe is probably far too complicated by now to make the 5-piece work across the board, but I'm thinking it could be a useful approach to developing seasonal capsules in future. In fact, I think I may be doing this already on a subconscious level.

  • Gaylene replied 3 years ago

    Reading this thread makes me realize why this type of wardrobe management has never worked for me. With my talent for rationalization, my $200 "statement" jeans could transform into an "essential" in a heartbeat when my eye spotted a new top which made my heart go pitterpatter.

    And, if I started thinking of seasons and capsules, I could subdivide into infinity--"WOW, this jacket is PERFECT for a warm, rainy fall when I need something to toss over my opera-going outfit! Come to think of it, maybe this indigo jacket could be an ESSENTIAL in a new capsule of warm, rainy eveningwear, which opens up the possibility that I might want a few more current statement pieces in indigo for the capsule as well. I'm sort of bored with all black these days...".

    My name is Gaylene and I'm an addict--with an enormous talent for rationalizing my addiction once I start down that slippery slope. ;)

  • Sterling replied 3 years ago

    Raises hand in the seat next to Gaylene.  

    I don't know if I actually have to define essentials.  As I said in an earlier post, I would only consider this strategy assuming my wardrobe was already in a good place.  I think that means that my essentials are already fleshed out and in good shape.  I would merely have to replace them as they wore out.  So my five seasonal purchases would be those "special" pieces that elevate my wardrobe.  

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Hahah, Gaylene, me too!! Raises guilty hand!! 

    I am not sure this whole thing will work for me but it MIGHT if I did set a $ amount over which something would definitely equal a "statement" -- as Jenn has done. 

    Here's one other way it might help me, believe it or not. 

    I have a strong tendency to buy ONLY "essentials." I.e. backbone wardrobe pieces. Left to my own devices I am the opposite of Approprio and probably Shedev. I just don't buy statements! So my look becomes painfully boring. 

    Rather than seeing this as a constraint, for me it might actually be a liberation to say: I must by 10 statements this year! I could end up with a much richer and more fun closet and might also reduce "churn." 

  • CocoLion replied 3 years ago

    My comment has nothing to do with wardrobe planning.  Rather, to assuage your feelings of guilt over buying too many things.  For every factory that gets in the news for treating its workers terribly, there are more factories that treat employees well or at least adequately.  Perhaps those people are benefitting from better wages and living conditions thanks to the overall globalization trend.  It is easy to focus on the "worst."  For example, right now one out of 12 employees at our restaurant is having a bad attitude, too much time on his phone, threatening to "turn us in for violations," refusing to do odd jobs when there's not enough kitchen work to do.  And he's all I seem to think about, forgetting how many good workers we have.  I really think that there are factories where the owner wants less turnover, so pays its employees better, and wants skill and experience, because they want to attract the best brands for their projects, who will pay more for workmanship.  Along those same lines, you don't hear of egregious labor violations from better brands.  They are from the lower end, like Topshop, Wal*Mart, was H&M in there? etc.  So a way of feeling better about this is to buy better.

    I have been all over the map on this topic, first buying only Made in USA and boycotting China.  Now I actually prefer Made in China!  to other imports, having concluded that they are not the worst labor offenders.  I still buy a lot of Made in USA but come on, $135 for a t shirt (the Great ruffle hem tee)?  It's not every day, every piece and I am willing to spend a lot on clothes.

    Sorry I don't have any sage advice for wardrobe strategy, as I seem to be overflowing, and my brain is so full with other problems right now all I want to do is reach for things and not have to worry about how it all fits together.  Suz I'm in that place you were recently with your Mother -- I've had a sick Mom, sick dog, and now the SO is sick too, he has MDS which has reached the stage of needing to visit UC Davis Cancer Center.  Big sigh.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Oh, Denise. HUGS!!! 


  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Also, I think you are so right -- there is some good that comes of all this, after all -- people have work, and may be doing better than in the past. 

    It's a lot to consider. Perhaps the sanest policy is simply one in one out. And for me, keeping in mind that all essentials and no statements makes for a no fun closet. 

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    Denise, wow, so sorry about everything you are going through.

    And yes, nothing is so simple. There are factories in poorer countries that are a lifeline for the people there. 

    As a practical matter, a clothing budget is probably the most straight forward way to limit churn if that is your goal. Ultimately most of us are fortunate to have far more than could be defined as essential, or even essential to maintain our socio-economic status in our affluent societies. 

    Nonetheless, the thought experiment of defining essential versus statement is very enjoyable (for me at least!). When fashion and style are your hobby is makes perfect sense to enjoy them on many levels including the intellectual. That is how I see it at least ;) .

  • Beth Ann replied 3 years ago

    Firstly:  Glad you shared on the thread, Denise.  Your viewpoint is a good one to hear, and I want to say that I'm wishing you the best as you sort through some big challenges!

    When it comes to avoiding lots of churn for ethical reasons, I've been given a different perspective from my friends in the mission field -- China, South Africa, Indonesia.  They say that the work, even in bad situations, is often better than the alternative, and they encouraged me to consider financially supporting organizations that make life better in these regions.   I believe they would say that money going to a positive outcome is better than boycotts meant to stop exploitation.  I'm working toward a focus on not being wasteful -- avoiding a "disposable" approach to  my clothing, and leaving some margin for investment in well chosen charitable causes.

    As for my own closet, I think I should be getting rid of more things.  I don't church enough, but some items go unworn -- often because they're, well, too worn.  In the past two years, I've had pants rip on me, not because they were too tight, but rather because they were wearing out.  I also have items that I've tired of, for example, a sweater that I bought two seasons ago, sleeveless shells that are 3-6 years old.  If they're not ratty, I don't feel free to say goodbye.  

    And my holding zone is growing..........

  • Sal replied 3 years ago

    Sorry to hear you are having such a tough time Denise.  Sending my best wishes to you.

  • approprio replied 3 years ago

    Denise, so sorry you're having a difficult time. Stay strong.

    I totally agree with you on the other side of the argument. I've heard Beth Ann's view from people working in international development, and I share it. Industrialisation is a brutal process, but if it weren't for the garment industry, Bangladesh would most likely be under water by now. I've reached more or less the same conclusion as you over the years.

    Nevertheless, more could be done to limit the environmental and human cost. One of my frustrations with fast fashion is that it delivers such a disappointing product and it feels like it's declining every year. From that perspective, it makes sense for us to consider our shopping strategies and seek out alternatives. Buy less, choose well, make it last, as Vivienne says.

    Incidentally, I've noticed that the people I know who love fashion are by and large far more mindful of these problems than those who profess to sneer at it, and that goes for everyone here. And I sometimes wonder why we don't see the same scandals about consumer electronics in the press, because I'm certain the problems are just as bad, if not worse.

  • jenanded replied 3 years ago

    Hey Denise... sorry to hear of things around you. And you continue to care about others' conditions - wow. Sending wishes.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Liz, that is such a good point. We did hear about some scandals relating to Apple a few years ago, but as you say, I suspect the situation is as bad or worse than in the garment industry. And guess what? WHO buys and cares about fashion? WOMEN. Hmmm. Misogynistic standards again. 

    Beth Ann, thank you also for sharing that perspective. I think it's true -- being mindful and researching places to donate or companies to support is better than boycotting. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 3 years ago

    So, I finally have time to sit down in the comfy couch,  next to Gaylene and Sterling and Suz...

    But first, I'm sorry to hear what you are going through Denise.  That's rough.

    This has been the best thread in a long time, thank you Suz for starting it, and then for allowing/encouraging it to develop into more of a conversation.  I've been following with great interest.

    I don't churn.  I collect.  I have SUCH a hard time getting rid of anything that doesn't need to go, ie is worn out.  And my wardrobe is big enough that this doesn't happen much.  I did get rid of a lot of things when I realized what "my" colours were, and a few more things that are truly a bad style/fit for me... but otherwise, if it's still "good" and fits, I struggle, regardless how "me" it is, stylewise. 

    So I wondered if something like this may help slow me down, get my head into a place where I can better assess things that will really add value to my wardrobe, rather than just getting the next shiny thing.

    I can relate a lot to what you said, Suz, about only buying essentials.  I was there as well.  And that's where I default to, when I'm tired, busy, feeling fat... so what I need is some statement pieces that are me, and just as comfortable to wear as some of my basics, but make me feel a whole lot better... because feeling better helps get one out of whatever slump you are in when you wake up.  Some stylish FFBO's.

    Suz, I think you can justify your denim culottes as essentials, for sure.  Trendy jeans are essential for you.  Angie says the same about herself.

    No solutions, but I do need to make some changes in my purchase/purge habits.  Good thoughts here to help the thinking process!

  • JAileen replied 3 years ago

    I've read this entire thread, and I don't know if I churn or not. Until just recently, most of my non basics (basics for me are jeans, tees, shorts, socks and underwear, and sneakers and snow boots) were thrifted. As Shevia noted, thrifted items are pre-churned. Recently, I've started buying more clothes new, especially footwear. A shocking amount of footwear, if I'm going to be completely honest. After I went grey I went crazy buying grey boots. I have another pair on order. I think I may have enough. I've also bought a lot of outerwear. My climate is harsh and we're outdoors in the elements, a lot. My husband doesn't mind because he knows I get cold easily, and if I get cold I want to go home. He's willing to stand in the snow for hours waiting that special bird to show itself.

    One thing I do is donate my discards to a thrift store run by a nonprofit which I belong to. So I know the items will be used by someone else, and the money goes to one of our programs, such as a food pantry for low income seniors. So my guilt, if any, is somewhat assuaged.

  • anne replied 3 years ago

    Such an interesting thread!!

    I will say I have an aversion to churn myself, because the concept tires me!  I have a relative who at one points was buying lots from thrift shops and garage sales, and then she'd keep getting rid of heaps of them. Even small wardrobes that need refreshing seem exhausting to me - anyone remember forum member ClearlyClaire's (I think) 10 piece wardrobe per season? To me having to replace your entire wardrobe every season did not appeal! We replaced couches in one of our living rooms recently, and while I like the replacements, part of me is a bit annoyed that the old couches only lasted about 10 years (or only about 8-9 years before it started shedding, but we put up with that for a while!)

    I also try to limit my buying so that the wearing out time equals the time I can wait until buying an updated  replacement. This is very hard to get right of course, and of course there are  the odd buying mistakes that get discarded early. But I work on the principal of for example, one updated casual sweater per year, and usually one pair of jeans (Unlike Suz, I don't wear jeans every day - only 3 days a week at most, and in winter only).

    Budget is really my main constraint, and though it is much greater than in your 'lean years" it does really force me to make decisions.I spent half my budget on shoes this year (2 pair of running shoes, one pair of nude MJ for orthotics) and so I need to prioritize. A dress I bought for office wear in 2013, expensive for me then and worn nearly once a week in the first few years, is getting a bit boring to me now, and DD13 thinks it is too short. But it is still in good condition and gets occasional compliments, and the truth is that I bought office wear in 2013 and 2015 and this year a new dress isn't really a priority when I need to update my summer casual wear and my workout/ cycling gear.

    In terms of your going forward, concentrating on statements sounds like a good plan. I'll be watching with interest.

  • CocoLion replied 3 years ago

    Thank you Elizabeth P, Jenanded, Approprio, Sally, Beth Ann, Shevia and Suz for your kind words.  I appreciate the compassionate women on this forum so much!

    Beth Ann that is such a great idea to contribute to organizations rather than boycott!  I have so much respect for people who do mission work. There is a local church, some of its members are poor -- they've grown up in trailer parks, no judgement meant by that term but rather to reflect the hardship that some rural Americans grow up in.  Anyway the church sends (at no expense to them) young members to do mission work for a few months at at time, to places like Africa, and it truly changes the lives of these individuals.

    Approprio -- it's not just electronics but if you look at a lot of things sold in big box stores like Wal*Mart, it's stuff that easily breaks and quickly ends up in the trash.  I don't know what you call this stuff -- household implements, kitchen tools, toys, junk!  Fast stuff?

  • La Pedestrienne replied 3 years ago

    I don't think I'm much of a churner. I rarely get rid of something just because it isn't "quite right" in terms of fit or color or because I'm tired of it. I'm mostly okay with living with my mistakes, unless they were very expensive. Items may fall out of favor somewhat, and migrate to chore clothes or loungewear, but most of what I get rid of has holes, stains, or busted seams. I do a small amount of consignment and eBay selling, which allows me to experiment a little bit with new silhouettes, new-to-me brands, etc, without feeling like I'm throwing a lot of money away "just trying" things.

    I'm the same with housewares and gear, TBH -- I'll limp along with a barely-functional item for a long time, waiting for just the right replacement to come along at a comfortable price. See: my falling-apart laundry drying rack, my pots and pans with wobbly handles (I retighten them every now and then!), and the ugly Ikea chairs I've been saying I want to get rid of for two years, but which I'll probably just put on the covered porch instead once I bite the bullet on new, more comfortable ones (that way I don't need to buy patio furniture). When my running shoes run out of tread, I can't throw them out until I've used them for a couple seasons of yard work. I don't think this constitutes hoarding, since everything in my house gets used heavily, but it is perhaps extreme cheapskatery. I really do need to say goodbye to the Ikea chairs -- unfortunately DH is very fond of them now.

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